Stranded Afghans demand Pak-Afghan border reopened

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In a bid to convince Pakistani authorities to allow them to enter their motherland, hundreds of Afghans—stranded due to the sealing of Pak-Afghan border at Torkham—have staged a protest demonstration at Landi Kotal Khyber Agency on Sunday.

The protesters, while carrying their belongings after assembling and stopping by security forces personnel at Mechani post, marched towards Landi Kotal in a procession. They chanted slogans in favour of their just demand of opening the border and letting them proceed to Afghanistan. Inside the border town of Landi Kotal, these Afghan protesters were also accompanied by a number of local tribesmen who are extending them food facilities for the past 10 days.

Hukam Khan, an Afghan national who was working as a labour in Rawalpindi, told Pakistan Today on the phone that he was part of the peaceful protest only to convince Pakistani authorities to let them enter their motherland. He said that neither the hotel owners/managers nor local tribesmen allowed to give them (Afghan nationals) accommodation, therefore, they were compelled to stay in mosques. But even from mosques, they were forced to evacuate, he added.

Hukam Khan said that now hundreds of stranded Afghans are compelled to stay under the roof of an under-construction mosque in the outskirt of Landi Kotal town. There are no basic facilities in the under construction building, he added. He said that all of them have lived in Pakistan and spent good days here; therefore, they should not be punished. “They have nothing to do with government policies, and respect Pakistan and its people,” he said.

The tribesmen in Landi Kotal informed that they were providing cooked food through collecting donations to these stranded Afghan nationals. Amongst them, around 300 are possessing Afghan passports with a valid visa and the remaining are in possession of ‘Proof of Registration’ (POR) issued jointly by UNHCR and Afghan refugees commissioner through NADRA.

The stranded Afghans are mostly patients; their visas have already expired, therefore, they assembled on Pak-Afghan border in hunt of a sliver of a chance to enter their motherland. Two days ago, Pakistani authorities announced allowing more than 250 Afghan nationals to enter their motherland at Torkham. But the procedure was billed as ‘deportation of arrested/detained Afghans’ to their motherland through the political administration of Khyber Agency.

Besides Torkham, similar situation is observed on almost all the other crossing points between the two countries. Across the border in Afghanistan, thousands of Pakistani nationals are also stranded due to the sealing of borders in the reaction to latest terrorist attacks in Lahore, Sehwan, Sindh, and Peshawar.

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